Becoming a Good Distance Open Water Swimmer

“Dedication is what you do when no one else is watching.”

Here are some tips to help you become a good distance open water swimmer!

  • Find a program you enjoy: Swimming is like anything the more you practice, the better you’ll be. This is why it’s very important to find a program you feel comfortable in and enjoy.

  • Get a friend involved. Sports are always easier with friends. Encourage a friend to start swimming with you. It makes training more fun. Friends also help with motivation, especially on days you don’t feel like getting out of bed because it’s to cold. There is also added safety when swimming open water with friends.

  • Use the right tools! Finis makes some great tools and equipment for Open Water Swimmers. They have everything, GPS Hydro Trackers, Waterproof MP3 players, Swimsense monitors and Snorkels. Take advantage of this technology and use it. I do!

  • All the small things. What separates good swimmers from great swimmers? I believe it’s all the small things. If you want to be a great swimmer you need to get on top of all the small things (e.g. stroke, underwater, nutrition, stretching). There is a quote I really like ‘Dedication is what you do when no one else is watching’ all the small things you do

  • Always have a goal. It’s pointless training without a goal. You should always have something to train for and aim towards. It can be something as small as trying to break 40 seconds for the 50 meters freestyle by a certain time or placing in the top three in your age group at a local Ocean Swim to wanting to win an Olympic goal medal.

  • Rest. I think rest is one of the most, if not the most important thing in sport. You can train you ass off day in and day out but if you’re not recovering properly and getting the right amount of rest in-between sessions you’ll never be able to truly train or race at the level you’re really capable of.

  • Nutrition. Like rest nutrition sometimes gets forgotten about. Not putting the right food in your body is like putting the wrong fuel in your car, it’s not going to run properly. What I do is eat healthy from Mondays to Fridays but on the weekends I normally eat whatever I feel like.

    • Sighting. You need to remember when sighting the more often you lift your head the more energy you’re wasting. The less you lift your head the more likely you are to head off course. This is why I find lifting my head every 5 to 6 strokes works well for me. You ultimately want to be taking the shortest line possible 
from the start to finish. If you’re in a pack however and are swimming behind someone you don’t have to lift your head at all, just watch the feet in front of you, let them do the sighting for you. Also with sighting it’s only your eyes you need out the water, not your whole head!

  • Stroke technique. I’m not the best person in the world to talk about stroke because I’m a rhythmic swimmer (I have a pretty high stroke rate). But a few basic things are length of stroke – make sure you are touching your leg with your thumb at the end of each stroke. If it feels like you are slipping with your pull under the water try moving your hand out a little wider as I find this sometimes helps.

  • Knowledge of current and tides. Before every race, especially in the ocean, do a warm up. It’s the perfect opportunity to see what currents and tides are doing. You can feel first hand just how strong they are before you race. If there are life guards on duty you can also talk to them and see what they think. Life guards know the currents and tides better than anyone

Keep swimming, be safe. Trent